A Few Disclosures

First of all, I want to mention that  Chez Bonne Femme is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. That means that any purchase you buy through a link that takes you to Amazon will help support this site. Thank you so much for your support!

Also, in the course of my career, I have received what bloggers/food-writers sometimes call “swag”–that is, free products, travel, or other perks commonly offered to food writers/editors.*

Food and wine writers cannot generally afford to buy every item they might consider for review. So often, companies will send us their products. (Think of it like book reviewers who get books from publishers for consideration, or movie reviewers who get CDs from distributors).

I have accepted such things under the premise that I am not in any way required to write about them. If they don’t meet my standards, they don’t appear on this site.

Nevertheless, I want to be clear about which items I have received, without cost to me, for consideration.

1. Wine. As a wine writer for a variety of publications publications, I often receive wines for review. This is very common practice in the wine industry; in fact, I know of very, very few wine writers who do not accept samples for review.

Of course, I never recommend wines that I wouldn’t buy myself. And, in fact, I also buy many wines myself for review. I maintain that if you only write about wines that are given to you from wineries, you could be missing out on many, many gems. Hence, you’re not doing your job.

2. Wine Trips: Again, as a wine writer, I am sometimes invited on expense-paid trips to visit wine regions to gain a deeper understanding of the wines and foods of that region. It’s relatively common practice among wine-writers in the wine industry to accept these trips, though different wine writers have different standards:

• Some (but very few) will accept no trips whatsoever.

• A greater majority will accept trips, but only if the trip is offered to them by a regional consortium or governing body that represents many wineries. This way, the writer does not feel beholden to write about any particular winery—they end up tasting literally hundreds of wines, often from a variety of appellations, and can choose those that are best suited to their audience. Most wine writers I know do not frown upon such trips, nor the writers who accept them.

I have accepted trips to Bordeaux, Cognac, Southwestern France, the Loire Valley, and Chile under these premises.

• Some writers will accept trips from anybody who offers them, including individual wineries as well as wine companies that represent a lot of wines.

This is where the gray area creeps in for myself and other wine writers. Here’s how it breaks down for me:

• I do not accept trips from individual wineries. Many wine writers feel the same way. Even though no ethical winery would make you promise to write about them in exchange for a trip, it just doesn’t look good.

• I sometimes, though very rarely, accept trips from large wine companies that represent a lot of wineries. The thinking is that if you have many, many wineries to choose from, you’ll find some great bottles, and you won’t be choosing any dogs just to get a story in print. For example, Symmington Family Estates owns many Portuguese port houses: Dow’s, Grahams, Warre’s—the list goes on. I did accept a trip to the Duoro from them, and ended up hand-picking a few ports and wines that I thought were perfect for my audience.

It is true that some wine writers will not even accept these kinds of trips, no matter how large the company is or how many wineries they represent. I’m very, very selective about these trips, because, as I say, it is a grey area. Before I go, I research the company thoroughly to make sure there are plenty of wines that are truly appropriate for my audience, hence, worth getting to know. And I never, ever, promise coverage. It just isn’t done.

3. Food Trips: As with wine, sometimes a governing body invites writers to learn more about a particular food. I only accept trips from consortiums or governing bodies, never single brands. Under such auspices, I have visited the Comté region of France as well as Parma (for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma).

4. Le Creuset: Ever since my mother and mother-in-law started giving me pieces of Le Creuset for Christmas, I’ve been a fan. I love this stuff and write about it often. I buy it myself, and in fact purchased a Le Creuset 3 1/2-quart braiser before I ever dealt with the company. However, I did recently accept one free 5-quart braiser from the company to use in photography and recipe development. This is somewhat common practice,. They do not compensate me in any other way.

I think that about covers it. If you have any questions or comments, please ask.

 

* Note that for my work as the restaurant reviewer for the Des Moines Register, I did not accept freebies—it’s a journalistic code of ethics! Small—very small—exceptions might include books for review or a dessert a chef might have sent out without my asking (something I felt it rude to decline), or other items of relatively very small value. This posting/page refers only to my work on this blog.

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6 comments to A Few Disclosures

  • Hello Ms. Moranville, I have recently purchased your book. I want to purchase a Le Creuset piece. Can you recommend a good size to go along with some of your wonderful looking recipes?
    Thank-you!

    • Wini

      Hi Alexandra! Thanks for your interest. I personally adore the 3 1/3-quart Le Creuset braiser–a lot of my recipes work well in that one. But for the Any-Night Baked Rice (which I make again and again and again), I like Le Creuset’s small French Oven. It’s the 18-cm pan, which holds about 2 quarts. Those are the two pieces I own and use again and again.

      Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Wini

  • George McCully

    I very much liked your first book—gave it as presents, recommended it to friends, etc.

    I feel, however, that you have been commercialized. You have changed the subject. Your Internet pieces are all written to promote brand-name products, starting with the Le Creuset braiser and the book you’ve put together to promote it (!). I do not at all begrudge you your commercial success; I am merely recording my unfavorable sense that your professional life is now given over to pitching and plugging brand-name products, associating them all as your personal favorites, as if that should influence our buying decisions. I am sorry to see that this has happened.

  • Wini

    Hi George. Thanks for weighing in–and I mean that. It’s always good for me to hear how readers view my blog, even if there’s a bit of a sting attached!

    I’m sorry you feel that the blog is getting too “commercial.” However, the number of posts that promote my braiser cookbook (or Le Creuset) are in a great minority compared to those that do.

    I want to stress that while I might get samples of products (most food/wine writers do), I never get paid to promote brands I like. Truly, I’m trying to behave just as if it’s one friend saying to another, “hey–you might like this! I do!”

    As someone who makes her living solely as a writer, I do have to continue to make a living, and the braiser book and Bonne Femme Cookbook are both income streams that I’ll need to continue to support. With this blog, I hope to do so while continuing to offer information that readers use and enjoy.

    Thanks again for writing–and for the nice comments about The Bonne Femme Cookbook!

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